Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, on Thursday in Kaduna, said the activities of the outlawed group, Boko Haram, actually started in 1986 when the Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch, Dele Giwa, was killed through a parcel bomb.
Odinkalu also lamented what he regarded as democratization of violence since the return to civil rule in 1999.
Besides, the Professor of Law accused former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, of deliberately impoverishing the state by under-educating its citizens.
Delivering a keynote address at the inauguration of Moluma Yakubu Loma Centre for Medical Law and the MIVE Legals Matrimonial Centre, Kaduna, the NHRC boss noted that Boko Haram started its nefarious activities in 1986.
He said what became Boko Haram (terrorism) started as a state-sponsored group, noting that when a state sponsored the killing of its citizens, it lost the legitimacy as a government.
Odinkalu said, "Contrary to what people think, the phenomenon that has now become Boko Haram actually started in an Ikeja Street, on October 18, 1986. That day, the first Improvised Explosive Device, was used to blow up Dele Giwa. Everyone knew that it was a state-sponsored murder. That was the first time that an IED went off on Nigeria soil. Series of events would later lead to Boko Haram today.
"At that time, Gani Fawehinmi (now late) had the courage to challenge the state on that murder. But he was in turn persecuted until his death. The Police Officer, who was investigating the murder, was also killed in unexplained circumstances in Mokwa, in Niger State. He was the immediate Junior brother of the celebrated writer and critic, Tunji Dare.
"When a state sponsors the illegal murder of its citizens, it loses its legitimacy as a government. So today's terrorism started as state sponsored.
"In its 2013 report, the Kabiru Turaki Report laid out starkly footprints of the extent to which the claim of the Nigerian state to a monopoly of violence is challenged.
"The democratised violence is the symptom that now defines most Nigeria's underlying ailment.
"Take for example Borno State. Around December 14, 2006, the then Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherif, in response to widespread criticism of his record or lack of it, as governor, declared, 'A lot of falsehood has been published over the years in newspapers about my government. And I have never lost sleep over them because less than five per cent of Borno people can read what is written in newspaper."